The Ghost of Red Auerbach vs. The Logo.
Magic and Larry
Russell and Wilt
Rambis Youth and The Human Victory Cigar.
This is going to be a great few days of setting up a compelling NBA final.
You’ll be inundated with looks back and memories between now and Thursday’s Game 1; let’s just say for now that the league couldn’t have scripted a better championship series. Five days of hype and a bunch of games that should set TV ratings standards not set since, well, maybe since Magic and Larry. At least since Michael.
For now, though, let’s look back. The lookahead stuff will come.
Wither the Pistons?
Talk around the arena last night was that it’s an even money bet that Flip Saunders is gone and the coach-in-waiting is ex-Raptor Michael Curry.
And you know it’s on everyone’s mind around here. Second question for Saunders after the game – about 15 minutes after his season ended – is whether he thinks he’ll get whacked.
"That’s not a good question to answer right now,” he said. “I’m sure that’s something Joe (Dumars, the team’s GM) and I will sit down and evaluate.”
Best guess? He’s gone.
It’s only been three seasons (seems like he’s been in Detroit longer, doesn’t it?) but three straight losses in the conference finals might be enough to cost him his job. Saunders has now coached four times in a conference finals and has never won. That’s not a good track record.
Yes, the Celtics won. Yes, they played a great fourth quarter. Yes, they showed some heart.
But watching Kevin Garnett pass up a dunk or a layup or at least a foul with about 1:40 left and Boston up four to pass off to Rajon Freaking Rondo for a jump shot was a hugely questionable decision and then watching him clank to game-sealing free throws was equally disturbing to Boston fans.
That’s not Big Game play.
So, I walk out of my room in the wee hours, off to get some fresh air, and almost physically bump into ref Bennett Salvatore, who’s in the next room.
I resisted the urge to ask: “What the hell was that call on Pierce?”
Am sure you saw the play, Pierce pump fakes Richard Hamilton in the air, draws more contact than Brent Barry did on Derek Fisher, somehow gets a shot off that goes in and Salvatore calls an offensive foul on Pierce.
I don’t know if there’s anybody who’s seen every NBA playoff game ever played but that has to be the single worst playoff call ever.
I can’t even think what would be second.
I’ve probably got enough to put up a mailbag Sunday morning but here’s one leftover from the other day.
Q: Counting the days to the draft has triggered a question for me. Do you think the Raptors have enough trade chips in its roster to compete with other teams to land their missing piece or pieces?
For example, any Toronto piece(s) for the 2nd round pick vs. Chicago piece(s). In my opinion, I would take what Chicago would have to offer rather than what Toronto would have to offer if I were Miami.
Your thoughts please.
Anthony R, Toronto
A: My thoughts are pretty easy to figure out. It depends on what the Raptors and/or Bulls offer in a trade. You can’t say one’s better than the other without knowing specifics and figuring out a team’s specific needs. You may think Chicago has more “good” parts but if they don’t want to lose them and Toronto has something people think is “good” to offer, then that’s a better deal to make.
A guy goes out for some halftime fresh air on the Palace loading dock and finds himself hanging out with Bob Seeger and Kid Rock.
As was the Porsche that gravelly-voiced Seeger rolled up in just before the game.
At the end of the first quarter, the goofy jumping-dancing-flipping troupe hits the floor and one of ‘em starts firing little plastic balls out of some toy cannon into the crowd.
Jalen Rose, sitting about five seats over, catches one.
No, he didn’t shoot it.
David Copperfield would have been proud.
Rasheed Wallace made himself disappear for almost an entire basketball game.
I don’t know what the Pistons are going to do player-wise this off-season but the sense I’m getting is that any team that wants ‘Sheed can have him.